My name is Sam Basile, and I am a 38 year old husband of my lovely wife Nicole, and a father of two kids. I am also fighting stage 3 brain cancer and my purpose in life is to help support brain cancer awareness and help raise support to find a cure. This is my story.
As most of friends and family know, I had a life changing event. On May 15th, 2015, I had a seizure at work. It was a Friday, at the end of a long work-week, and I collapsed due to the seizure. I woke up a few hours later in UMPC Mercy, and saw my lovely wife Nicole, my parents, and two of my bosses. All of them were looking at me, and I had no idea why I was there. But I quickly realized that something looked very wrong. After a night in the Emergency room, the doctors requested an MRI and an EEG. The MRI revealed a tumor, a glioma. That news was shocking to me and seemed impossible. How could I have a brain tumor?
I “signed up” for surgery to remove the tumor at UMPC Hillman Cancer Center. Dr. Amankulor removed as much of the tumor as possible, and I am so grateful for that. But surgery can only go so far. Of course, the doctor sent the tumor for a biopsy. Two days before my follow-up appointment with Dr. Amankulor, the doctor’s office called and scheduled me for appointments with the Radiation Oncologist and the Neuro Oncologist. I obviously knew what the biopsy results would be, and that was devastating. On the day of the appointment, the doctors told me I am diagnosed with a grade 3 brain cancer (anaplastic astrocytoma). I felt distraught and immediately was convinced that I wouldn’t live to see my kids grow (7 and 9 at the time) to their teenage years. My initial thought is that how does a 36 year old, with no other apparent medical problems, get brain cancer? Why is this happening to me?? This isn’t fair! I was devastated, angry, and distraught.
I know brain cancer isn’t fair, and I really didn’t want to take the radiation and chemotherapy. But I did it for my kids. I went through 33 days of radiation, and concurrently took 42 straight days of chemotherapy. Following that, I took 12 full rounds of chemo therapy, which was completed in August 2016, with an increased dosage each time. During the first 6 months of the treatment, because I had a seizure, I was not allowed to drive, which was very upsetting. I didn’t even have the strength or energy to take my kids to their baseball games or dance recitals. So many things I had taken for granted were, theoretically, taken away from me. Of course, I’m still receiving MRIs every 12 weeks. So far, the last couple of MRIs have been positive. My vision is not as good as it was (and will probably never get all the way back). During the months of these treatments, I constantly wondered: “Why is this happening to me?” I was not angry at God, but I was confused and upset. What was my purpose in my life? Will I even live to see my kids get through high school? Why was I always so concerned about work? And then one day, God opened my ears and I realized what had happened to me. I am extremely happy and blessed to still be alive. Luckily I was not driving during my seizure, so I didn’t hurt anyone else. It took me 36 years to realize that my purpose in life is to support brain cancer awareness and help find a cure! Yes, I will have MRIs and follow-ups for the rest of my life. I am fortunate that the treatments have been effective, although it’s physically challenging for me. My energy is not great, and I get tired much more easily than I ever have before. I am not considered to be “cured”; but I am so lucky for the support and prayers that I have received from all my family and friends—I’m grateful for all of them. All types of cancer are horrible, so I will not speak for whatever sicknesses others have had to live through. But brain cancer awareness doesn’t get the same support and awareness that other cancer events receive. So I am here to help support the cause.
That brings to me to today. I am able to work and read (albeit slowly). I have been able to jog, and my energy is gradually increasing, although I still need frequent naps. I’m able to drive myself, which is a blessing! I’m going to participate in a 5K Brain Tumor Research walk/run on August 19, 2017 in White Oak. I am really hoping to jog it! All awareness and research money goes to my doctors at the Hillman Cancer Center, such as Dr. Amankulor, Dr. Drappatz, and Ashley Prichard, and I am so grateful for them. Since I am so lucky to be alive, but have to fight this for the rest of my life, I know that my purpose is to help raise awareness to help cure brain cancer. Several members of my family and friends are going to participate in the 5K event with me. If anyone would like to join us, please do so! Most importantly, prayers and emotional support are ALWAYS welcomed and appreciated. Thank you all for taking the time to read my story!With deepest gratitude,
Join us in bringing about brain cancer awareness and the fight to cure brain cancer!
Cancer can't win this race!